Screening in tandem with Jodorowsky's Dune is the cult director's first film in 23 years, and although it never reaches the fullblown mystical madness of his '70s heyday, La Danza De La Realidad is definitely like nothing else in the festival. Alejandro Jodorowsky himself describes the film as “an imaginary autobiography”, charting his childhood years in the small Chilean town of Tocopilla, and its surreal flourishes, not to mention a 130-minute running time, will make this a tough watch for all but the most excitable Jodorowsky fans.
Jodorowsky's son Brontis plays the lead – his grandfather (and the director's father) Jaime – as the director digs back into his roots. Now a shop-owner, Jaime is an immigrant former prize-fighter who toured with a circus. The first scenes prompted a walkout after just five minutes, with the arrival of a man dressed as a transvestite carrot. But although it has many moments of magic realism and lots of bawdy nudity, Jodorowsky's film is really quite traditional, soon shifting focus from the young Alejandro, a little Lord Fauntleroy with flowing golden locks, to Jaime, who leaves the village with a gun down his trousers and a vague plan to assassinate the president.
Though the film almost always holds the attention, there are a lot of non-professional actors onscreen (many of them literally members of the director's family) that give awkward and less than stellar performances. Combine that with a harsh, unalloyed digital look and we're not exactly talking high-end production values. Add to that such affectations as having Jodorowsky's mother deliver all her lines in an operatic falsetto and it's pretty clear this film won't be troubling Iron Man 3 at the multiplex. Nevertheless, there is something here for Jodorowsky completists, and where else will you hear a dying man, having seen his mutt come last in a fancy dress competition, complain, “I don't want to live in a world of dressed-up dogs”?